State of Whose Union?

by Diane Dimond on January 31, 2011

State of President Obama's Union, 2011

One of the primary functions of government is to keep us safe – not only from foreign enemies but from fellow citizens who’ve turned to crime. We function best when we feel safe and secure in the world. It allows us to unlock our creative minds, produce more and better work and give back to society in the most positive ways.

So, as I watched President Obama’s State of the Union speech I listened carefully for what he would say that would address American’s concerns about crime and justice and help us feel safer. After all, consider recent events. Shortly before the speech, in states across the nation, eleven police officers had been killed in the line of duty in a 24 period. And the country is still reeling from the shooting rampage in Tucson, Arizona that left 6 people dead and 14 wounded, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

I was disappointed with the speech.

One Seat Left Empty For Rep. Giffords

Oh, at the top of the speech Mr. Obama referenced the empty chair in the chamber left vacant for Rep. Giffords but he failed to specifically acknowledge the family of 9 year old Christina-Taylor Green sitting above him in the House chamber. John and Roxanne Green and their son, Dallas, were summoned to Washington to sit next to First Lady Michelle Obama during the address but they were never mentioned by name. Neither were others flown in for the photo-op: Tucson nurse Tracy Culbert and other members of the hospital staff who ministered to the fallen that awful day and Daniel Hernandez, the quick thinking congressional intern who almost certainly saved Giffords life by immediately applying pressure to her head wound.

It might have gone a long way if the president had specifically singled out these folks as a signal to all of us that heroism and goodness really do prevail.

Tucson's Jared Loughner - Schizophrenic?

As the speech progressed the President said nothing about how easily the mentally ill or the career criminal can get guns or mega-clips of ammunition in this country. Nothing was mentioned about what we might do as a society going forward to preemptively help the criminally insane before they go off on a deadly spree.

While the President did briefly mention illegal immigration and said, “I am prepared to work with Republicans and Democrats to protect our borders, enforce our laws and address the millions of undocumented workers who are now living in the shadows,” he offered no specifics. I wondered why, if Mr. Obama was serious about dealing with the strain of illegals on our schools, hospitals, housing and social welfare offices, why hasn’t his administration pushed specific legislation over the last two years?

Too Many Inmates? Release Some!

I didn’t hear a word about the growing problem of early release of convicts due to widespread prison overcrowding, the scourge of human trafficking, diminished state budgets for court systems to administer justice, the lack of funds for new police hires or forensic crime labs, the epidemic of illegal prescription drug abuse, fraud in the home mortgage industry or the ever growing problem of identity theft and cyber crime. All are major difficulties Americans deal with every day but none of it was deemed important enough for mention as a part of an address about the state of our union.

Since September 11, 2001 America hasn’t felt like the secure cocoon I was raised to believe it would always be. Since the World Trade Towers collapsed, the Pentagon burned and brave souls perished on a plane in a Pennsylvania field there have been anthrax scares, multiple mass shootings at schools, frequent terror threats especially at airports, tens of thousands of citizens murdered … I could go on and on.

The Day America's Security Changed Forever

American’s sensibilities are raw with worry, worry about things we can’t even imagine yet. Even the president said during his address, “… As we speak, Al Qaeda and their affiliates continue to plan attacks against us” and he promised that the U.S. will keep the Taliban from re-establishing terror bases inside Afghanistan. In the scant two paragraphs Mr. Obama dedicated to address the continuing terror threat we face he failed to mention that he plans to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan this summer. Then what?

I’ll go out here on a limb and say that every American is for reducing the massive federal deficit, creating more jobs, finding a new spirit of excellence in education and alternative energy development. We all agree our government needs a major restructuring overhaul – five agencies that handle housing problems? It’s crazy! But none of that is achievable – innovation and reconciliation are impossible – if we’re hunkered down feeling unsafe.

Everything the President said was vitally important; every topic he raised in his state of the union speech warrants serious consideration. But just as important is the need for every American to feel secure enough to venture out into the world to help spark the needed changes and to feel connected to the work that needs to be done.

I was looking for some reassurance and it wasn’t there.

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Diane January 31, 2011 at 12:19 pm

DD Web Site Reader Doug B. writes:

“Good point – it was like a campaign speech — “we need to make sure that every one of our children receives a first rate education….”
Wow, amazing….

“We need to ensure that our towns and cities are safe and free from crime….”
Incredible, groundbreaking…..

“We need to get everyone back to work and ensure that healthcare is affordable for all….”



Diane January 31, 2011 at 12:29 pm

DD Web Site Reader Matt Bruce writes:

“I LOVE It! Spot on Diane!!! Thanks.”


Diane January 31, 2011 at 12:37 pm

Facebook Friend Patrick McCall writes:

“To politicians ONLY other politicians are important. The cavalier way we treat mental illness in this country is deplorable. It’s just buried under a rug until a tragedy occurs.”


Diane January 31, 2011 at 12:38 pm

Facebook Friend Michele Cohen Winter writes:

“No, unfortunately he’s loosing all the battles and positive message but not realistic. As I watch I now know why he has gotten so gray and he’s hitting brick walls with the republicans. There is NO health care (univeral or taxable) and we are still at war for absolutely no reason- not ignorant just frustated as I was in journalism and now in law + unemployed! Geeeez- welcome to the real world ! I need a reality show:)”


Diane January 31, 2011 at 12:38 pm

Facebook (and Lifelong) Friend Brenda Box writes:

” I wanted to hear more about gun control. The federal government isn’t the front line in crime control, but Congress should limit automatic weapons.”


Diane January 31, 2011 at 12:39 pm

Facebook Friend Victoria Delaguerra-Seaman writes:

“Oh please Michele! The President had free rein the past two years with the both the Democratic House and Senate. Where have you been? That was a ridiculous comment.”


Diane January 31, 2011 at 12:40 pm

Facebook Friend Christopher Herrmann writes:

“Hmmmm. He didn’t say anything about gun control….”


Diane January 31, 2011 at 12:41 pm

Facebook Friend Bill Evans writes:

“Very nice. Great job. Right to the point.”


Frank Praytor January 31, 2011 at 12:45 pm

Well, at least the guy is being consistent. Everything about him is vague and mysterious.


Diane January 31, 2011 at 4:38 pm

DD Web Site Reader Bob Burtis writes:

Where is the Man in “The Yellow Hat” I feel like this is a Curious George Book. He has no experience. Health Care and onerous regulation. No regard for the constitution. Moratorium on the Gulf increases dependence on Foreign Oil and raises our costs, exports our jobs.
His green initiatives will (have us) paying $4.00 $5,00 or $10.00 per gallon. He tells Mubarak his words have to have meaning. Does this apply to himself?”
To add to his own inexperience no advisors with any experince.? Imelt is the greast exporter of jobs we have.
Bob Burtis


Cubby January 31, 2011 at 4:59 pm


Don’t know about everyone else, but I felt like the American people were abandoned. Not a word about jobs, foreclosures, etc., but focusing on what can happen once everyone’s done their part by being turned into a jobless, homeless horde. I wasn’t impressed by the rhetoric nor was I impressed the message. All that was impressed upon me was the ‘disconnect’ our government and politicians have for the ‘real’ state of our union.

We’re in real trouble, folks, and that speech proved (to me, anyway) that our representatives are representing their right to continue to bicker and squabble while the rest of the country is allowed to continue to rot.

Impressed with the speech? NO! If you haven’t got the focus to address the real concerns of Mr. and Mrs. America, then why waste the breath with worn out cliches and more ‘pie in the sky’ dreams and false promises?

Thousands upon thousands of workers can’t find a job and those that do, have to take wages that won’t even cover the basics. More and more people left homeless because the mortgage companies and Wall Street were allowed to ruin our economy and then on top of it, bailed out with *our* tax dollars. In essence, our government has sanctioned the raping of America and did it with a smile on their ‘corporate owned faces’, as they twisted the knife.

I’m sorry, but I’ve lost all faith in our current government. We’re all as good as ‘scrooched’.


Diane January 31, 2011 at 5:09 pm

DD Web Site Reader Bob Burtis writes:

Where is the Man in “The Yellow Hat” I feel like this is a Curious George Book. He has no experience. Health Care and onerous regulation. No regard for the constitution. Moratorium on the Gulf increases dependence on Foreign Oil and raises our costs, exports our jobs.
His green initiatives will (have us) paying $4.00 $5,00 or $10.00 per gallon. He tells Mubarak his words have to have meaning. Does this apply to himself?”

To add to his own inexperience no advisers with any experience? Imelt is the greatest exporter of jobs we have.

Bob Burtis


Diane January 31, 2011 at 11:30 pm

Huffington Post Reader ScooperSS writes:

“Honey you’re NEVER going to find reassuranc­e from an elected official. Their number one priority is to stay in office, number 2 is to get as much money as possible, number 3 is to get their party in power, number 4 is to keep their party in power,…

On their list of priorities you and I are probably ranked in the 30’s and that’s only near election time. And the only reason we’re that important is for our votes and what campaign cash we can scrape together to give to them.

AND that is the biggest problem in this country right now. It all ties into that fact that OUR representa­tives don’t feel like they have to be represent us, their bosses.
Bad economy, no jobs? OUR lovely reps helped ship our jobs overseas.
Bad economy, WS cleaning out our savings? Our lovely reps gave them bundles of cash to gamble with.
Banks bleeding us dry? Our reps gave them half-azzed reforms. Hahaha
Country split into factions? Our reps like it that way and encourage the divide.
Can’t afford to go to the doctor? Our reps made us buy high priced insurance with no cost controls.
People in this country are drained. Drained of cash, drained of spirit. In the last 2 weeks, I’ve heard of more murder/sui­cides in my area than I heard all of last year. “


Diane January 31, 2011 at 11:31 pm

Huffington Post Reader RoyRobson writes:

“I’m beginning to think maybe Obama got the message on Nov 2…Maybe he realizes he has turned the independen­ts against him, and he needs them to get elected…­. “


Diane January 31, 2011 at 11:32 pm

Huffington Post Reader MissingJournalism writes:

“I was looking for some reassuranc­e and it wasn’t there.”

Nor will you ever receive it from either party or any elected official. The politics of fear is what propels the growth and status quo of government­.

“Since September 11, 2001 America hasn’t felt like the secure cocoon I was raised to believe it would always be”

I don’t share this sentiment. Pre-9/11 was equally insecure for different reasons. I’m not comparing what event was more horrific, but rather that 9/11 finally dispelled the myth. “


Diane January 31, 2011 at 11:33 pm

Huffington Post Reader Rolland Hamm writes:

“An overhaul will take things to where they should have been for congress to pass health care reform measures that both parties agreed to. It didn’t; that is why Democrats lost big in November. So starting over is the best way. If it is not done now then 2012 will be the next step. Washington has to get its head on. The more support that both Republican­s and Democrats (and the few Independen­ts who are elected) have to work out an agreeable law that is acceptable to the people then the better it will be now and the next election. The next election vote will be influenced by how well they did and good bye to those who didn’t get it. “


Diane January 31, 2011 at 11:38 pm

DD Web Site Reader Daryl Carr writes:

“I heard more taxes….”


Diane February 1, 2011 at 9:10 pm

Huffington Post Reader GoldsteinB writes:

“Every American is not for reducing the massive federal deficit and neither is Obama with all his boondoggle­s that he insists mirror the race to the moon. Solar energy for instance..­.
But I do wonder why no private lender considered solar panels a wise investment­, forcing solar panel manufactur­ers to turn to the government for loans, followed by endless tax credits just to break even.
I guess people who work for the government are just smarter. We’re so lucky to have them “investing­” our money for us! “


Diane February 1, 2011 at 9:10 pm

Huffington Post Reader parlimentMike writes:

“So many crimes, but where to start? Catching people who use illegal tactics to gain government power, who do so much more damage than any neighborho­od criminal, would be the biggest bang for the enforcemen­t buck.
Many joke about the inherent corruption of government­, yet take small crimes very seriously. I think official crimes are by far the most serious, and should be our highest priority. “


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